Climbing is a mental and physical workout that can be brought to incredible heights outdoors. Around the world, from ice caves to rock formations, adventurers seek out new and exciting ways to climb. Difficulty is measured by the intensity of a route or the lack of equipment. Here we’ve compiled a list of the most difficult climbs around the world. Some have only been completed once. But the most impressive element is the time and dedication climbers take to complete their goal.
La Dura Dura, Oliana, Spain
La Dura Dura is known as the world’s hardest climb. After two years of training and working together, Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra made the ascent. Ondra made the historic first ascent of what he called a 9b+ route. This film was made, documenting the climb and Ondra and Sharma’s journey.
Gioia, Varazze, Italy
With only 3 completed ascents, Gioia is believed to hold the high grade of 8c+, and is only one of two in the world to hold that high grade. The boulder was first climbed in 2008 by Christian Core in a documentary, “i Core, my climbing family.”
Rhapsody, Dumbarton Rock, Scotland
After dozens of falls and 70 days of effort, Scottish climber Dave MacLeod was the first to ascend this E11 grade climb. At the time of the climb in 2006, this was the most difficult traditional route in the world.
Compressor Route, Cerro Torre, Patagonia
While the first undisputed ascent occurred in 1974 by the Ragni di Lecco climbers, the first free climb of this infamous route was completed by David Lama in 2012. Lama gave the grade a hard 8a but very demanding mentally.
Iron Man, Eptingen, Switzerland
This difficult dry route was added to Swiss winter crag Eptingen in 2012 by Robert Jasper. The route combines three pre-existing routes creating a grade of D14+. Jasper first did the climb after drytooling the route, but later re-climbed it with considerable amount of ice.
Wolverine, Helmcken Falls, British Columbia
First discovered in 2010 by Will Gadd who claimed it to be the coolest ice he had ever seen or climbed, Gadd and Time Emmett gave the climb a rating of WI10, the highest rating yet. The wild ice cave climb was revisited in 2012 by Emmett and Kleman Preml and re-rated to a WI 11.
El Sendero Luminoso, El Portrero Chico, Mexico
El Sendero Luminoso otherwise known as The Shining Path rises 2,500 feet to the summit of El Toro. The daredevil of the climbing industry, Alex Honnold recently took on El Sendero Luminoso. without the use of any ropes. His solo climb is one of the most difficult in rock climbing history.
Hanshelleren, Flatanger Cave, Norway
Flatanger Cave has known routes in the sport climbing community such as Change (5.15c) and Move (5.15b) that are two of the world’s hardest. Adam Ondra, arguably the best sports climber in the world created new routes during his 2013 visit that reach a 9b or 9b+ rating.